This article was published on March 9, 2012

Reddit community to new CEO Yishan Wong: “Don’t f*&# it up.”

Reddit community to new CEO Yishan Wong: “Don’t f*&# it up.”
Drew Olanoff
Story by

Drew Olanoff

Drew Olanoff was The Next Web's West Coast Editor. He coined the phrase "Social Good" and invented the "donation by action" model for onlin Drew Olanoff was The Next Web's West Coast Editor. He coined the phrase "Social Good" and invented the "donation by action" model for online charitable movements. He founded #BlameDrewsCancer. You can follow him on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, or email [email protected]

It’s really hard to describe exactly what reddit is, is it a social news site? An online community? It’s both really, but as the years have gone on it has become its own category. No longer does the site get mentioned alongside or in the shadows of Kevin Rose’s Digg.

In 2006, reddit was purchased by the large media company Conde Nast, a move that didn’t excite most of its community. From the outside, it seemed like an odd move considering the free spirit that lives within its domain. Five years later, it was spun out as its own company causing many to cheer for independence once again.

Since reddit has become its own company again, it hasn’t had a head honcho. Today, its new CEO was introduced with much fanfaire in a blog post written by the new boss, former Facebook engineer Yishan Wong.

In the post, Wong explains how he became a candidate for the gig:

I was quite happy last September to hear the news that reddit was being spun out into an independent entity.

That announcement included the fact that reddit was looking for a CEO. I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t immediately cross my mind to imagine what it would be like to do that job. I’d left my previous company (Facebook) over a year ago and been doing random startup consulting ever since. But my last position was only as a Director of Engineering and I didn’t have any straight-up CEO experience, despite having managed large teams of engineers and working on numerous business and startup issues. So imagine my surprise when two days later, I was contacted asking if I was interested in talking about the position.

Needless to say, Wong was exactly what reddit was looking for and having been a member of the site since 2005, he brings an engineering mentality to a site that continues to grow by leaps and bounds.

Wong shared his plans for the first few months at the helm of reddit; get to know the community:

I’m not looking to step in and make “big, bold changes” – I think reddit is great, and the team has a lot of good features already in the pipeline to improve functionality for users and mods, help with subreddit discovery, improve the API, and help bring reddit to more people – so the primary goal for my first few months is to listen and try to learn as much as I can about the details of the product and the community.

In a thread linked to his blog post, he opened himself up to questions and commentary from the community, which is what reddit users are all about. Some of the comments were funny, as we’ve come to expect from its userbase, and some of them pulled no punches, specifically one of the most popular comments on the thread:

Don’t fuck it up.

How’s that for pressure on your first day of the job? When it comes to reddit, we’d expect nothing less. Another interesting factoid embedded within the comedic thread was a comment from reddit’s co-founder and current board member Alexis Ohanian:

I asked all of the candidates I interviewed the question: “Why did digg fail?”
Yishan knows. And I’ll do everything in my capacity as a board member of reddit, inc. to make sure he doesn’t fuck it up.

Even though a slew of commenters asked Ohanian what the answer was to that question, he hasn’t responded. I’m sure that the answer is pretty good since it got Wong to the top of reddit.

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